Week 11 – East Coast Surfing

“I’m a surfer now!……It’s what I do…..That’s how I define myself now…..”

I could be going a bit too far as I’ve only just completed my first ever surfing lesson while staying at Byron Bay :-)

It’s my last 2 weeks in Australia and I’ve been making my way up the East coast from Sydney to my final Australian destination at Brisbane before I fly out. One of my stops up the coast is the beautiful (and very hipster) surfing town of Byron bay, which seems like the ideal place to tick off another bucketlist item of getting on a surf board for the first ever time.

Byron in the Rain

Byron Bay in the Rain

I have absolutely no idea how natural I’m going to find surfing. I’ve never done any skateboarding or snowboarding. The closest thing I can think of in terms of skills is the last time I tried ice skating which did not go well….after 30 seconds on the ice I crashed into a wall and was asked by a sympathetic 12-year-old if ‘I needed any help?’:-)

I book myself in for a 3 hour lesson with LetsGoSurfing. The weather is a bit rainy in Byron but I guess it’s not an issue getting wet for a surfing lesson. I arrive and meet Brett Curtin, the instructor for today. Who hands me a wetsuit and point me to the changing rooms.

“Ah, it’s a bit too small bro! You’re broader than I thought”, Brett says as he hands me another suit…..I like this guy already, nothing like a little ego-boost before starting something new! :-)

The class is all here and a nice small number (just 3 of us). We load the surfboards up on the trailer and head down to the beach. Brett takes us through some of the terminology and safety risks to be aware of (sweeps, rips, current, swell…….), how to fall properly (which I paid particularly close attention to) and then it’s time to learn how to ‘pop up’ on the board.

The surf-mobile

The surf-mobile

The Surfer's Code

The Surfer’s Code

Hands by the side, Head up, bridge up and swing your legs over, keep you knees bent and look where you’re going…..I’m up!…….slightly surprised, I look up at Brett for confirmation.

“Perfect Bro!”

Yes! It’s nothing like ice-skating!……in fact it’s really similar to a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Stand up movement. Transferable skills! :-)

After a few rounds, we head out and try it out for real. Despite the weather being rainy and a bit cold, the water is beautiful and warm. The waves are perfect for the first day too, not too big but large enough to get you moving back to shore.

Paddle out, head up, pop up….fall…….repeat. But I’m staying up for a second or 2 longer each time. It’s so much fun! The only frustrating thing is how long it takes to get back into the water from the shore. The current is so strong that it’s taking a good few minutes each time in to make the 10-20 meters back. After a couple of attempts, we had even been pushed 100 meters down the beach!

Waiting for the wave

Waiting for the wave

“How’d you like the leg workout today bro?”, a surfer asks as we are both wading back in.

He thinks I’m one of them! “I know man…..killer sweep today!” (what am I even saying?)

“You around for the weekend bro? Gonna be killer!”

“I wish bro! I heard it’s gonna be a big swell!” I’m a surfer now….I speak the surfer language! :-)

Last try of the day, I’ve been getting closer and closer to riding the wave back to the shore each time. Paddle, paddle paddle…….head up, pop up, head up…and I drift along back to the shore until the wave dissipates. I turn back to Brett who still bobbing in the water……thumbs up…..Great feeling, so much fun! :-)

We finish up the lesson and head back, all 3 of us from the class buzzing and talking about a new favorite hobby. Hopefully I can find a few more spots throughout the year to try and keep it up.

Lets go Surfing

To round off the week, some other pics from ‘real’ surfers and other stops up the coast.

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